Cookbook Review: This cookbook was one of three new cookbooks I bought last Boxing Day. I have about eight cookbooks now, seven I got in the past year. Of all these, I’ve used this one the most. The main reason being is that right now, I don’t really cook or bake that much, but in the summer, I did canning, but this book doesn’t just have recipes for canning.
First off, this book is good value for money. It has 200 recipes and it’s seasonal based. While this doesn’t always apply since I live in Canada and the author lives in California, the layout of the book does apply to most places i.e. berry recipes follow berry recipes.
Additionally, it’s not all just canning, but it includes various clever ways of using leftover or excess fruit such as in the recipe below. The book is a great resource for any novice or seasoned canner, and most of the recipes are from scratch. There are no packets of pectin around here.
Some of the canning recipes I liked included: “Strawberry and lemon preserves”, “Blueberry Apple Jam” and “Concord Grape Jelly with Green Apples”. I wasn’t a big fan of her “Do Chau” (pickled carrot and daikon) recipe, but all in all, this book is incredibly useful for the casual and serious canner and cook.
There are also recipes on how to use your canned goods (for pies, savoury dishes, etc) and other ideas for preservation like the Lime Frozen Yogurt recipe below.
All in all, I recommend this book for canners and those who just like fruit.
Garlic Scapes from my little plot. I only grew garlic this year as an experiment. I planted eight plants, but a squirrel took four of the bulbs and one died probably because of the spearmint (which you can see in the background).
I picked the scapes a bit late because most people recommend that you harvest them before they loop like I have. Oh well, they still tasted great!
This recipe is a good template for pesto in general. I used my frozen basil from last year because I didn’t have enough scapes, but it worked out really well. I just heated it lightly in a dry pan to melt some of the ice.
Garlic Scape Pesto
Adapted from Serious Eats
1/4 cup pine nuts or walnuts
3/4 cup coarsely chopped garlic scapes*
Juice and zest of 1/2 lemon
1/2 teaspoon salt
A few generous grinds of black pepper
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/4 cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
*Or use half scapes and half herbs such as basil, dill and chervil
1. In a small, dry pan set over very low heat, lightly toast the pine nuts, stirring or tossing occasionally until just beginning to brown, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool for a few minutes.
2. Combine the scapes, pine nuts, lemon juice and zest, salt, and pepper in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse about 20 times, until fairly well combined. Pour in the olive oil slowly through the feed tube while the motor is running. When the oil is incorporated, transfer the pesto to a bowl and stir in the grated cheese. If you plan to freeze the pesto, wait to add the cheese until after you’ve defrosted it.
This was my first time making gnocchi and it was delicious! They don’t look neat and tidy, but man, did they taste good. They were also was very easy. I had only 200g of ricotta so I basically multiplied all the ingredients by 80% and used a small egg yolk instead of a standard large. It was seriously rich, but oh so good. I messed up on the browned butter sauce, but it was still good.
Just a reminder about food posts. I do not bake or cook as often as I use to, but I still like it a lot. The blog posts are a way for me to evaluate recipes and techniques for future reference.
Onto the yummy stuff.
Quick Ricotta gnocchi
From Delicious Days.
Ingredients (for 2):
250 g Ricotta
1 egg yolk (M-L)
1/4-1/2 tsp fine sea salt
30 g Parmigiano (or Pecorino), freshly grated
50-75 g all-purpose flour, extra for dusting the dough/board
serve with tomato sauce or any kind of pesto
50g of butter
A few sage leaves (5-6?)
1. Discard any excess liquid that the Ricotta’s packaging may contain, then add Ricotta cheese, egg yolk, salt and freshly grated Parmigiano into a large bowl. Mix well with a wooden or regular spoon. Now add the flour and stir in briefly, just until combined – the dough will still be quite sticky. (Of course you can add more flour at this point, but keep in mind, that the more flour you use, the denser the gnocchi become in the end. And you want them to be as light & fluffy as possible, with a velvet-like texture.)
2. Forming these gnocchi is the slightly tricky step, this is the technique that works best for me: Generously flour a board, take a big tablespoon of the dough and scoop it onto the board. It gets dusted with flour (dust your hands generously, too!), before rolling it into a finger-thick roll. Cut it into little pillows (stick the knife’s blade into the flour to prevent it from sticking to the dough). Then place each gnoccho on a floured board or parchment paper lined baking tray. Continue quickly with the next step, otherwise they will get soggy and stick to the paper/board anyway.
3. Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to a boil, add a generous pinch of salt and reduce heat until the water bubbles lightly. Add the gnocchi and stir once, so they don’t stick to the bottom – then let cook until they start floating on top. Depending on their size this may take 2 to 4 minutes. Take out with a skimmer and serve with a sauce or pesto of your choice.
Browned sage butter: Wash and pat dry the fresh sage leaves, then stack and cut them into thin chiffonade. Meanwhile melt the butter in a pan over low to medium heat, add the sage chiffonade and sauté until the sage has become crisp and the butter has gained a golden brown hue and nutty flavor (but don’t let it burn!). Spoon over the gnocchi and add some freshly ground black pepper, grated parmesan.
More notes: I put the gnoccho in the freezer after I made them since I didn’t eat them right away. I am aware you can freeze gnoccho quickly after rolling and cutting them out. I also tried to form them on the fork, but that was too time consuming and uglifying. The pillows are fine by me.
This is a staple for one of my friends. She’s a domestic goddess and excellent at baking. I’ve had this cake before and I did mess up on my own versions only because I realised my dish is too small. This is a cake that requires no solid chocolate which is good if you all you have on hand is cocoa powder and you don’t want to chop up chocolate or can find mass quantities of chocolate chips (why is it that I can only buy it in 100 grams bags here?). I think this is a pretty inventive cake probably from an old vintage cookbook of my friend’s mum. It was a hit at the birthday I baked this for. As usual, I cut out a lot of sugar, and while I usually use brown sugar in my recipes, I followed the recipe and used white for this one.
Lots of lovely dark brown sugar make this baked good. Chocolate chips made this extra gooey. The top skin was lovely. As usual, I cut a lot of sugar and some oil. I used a mix of margarine and sunflower and grapeseed oil because I did not have canola on hand at the time. They were chewy and sweet. Nice and decadent, but not as much as brownies, but the chocolate really adds a great touch. As I am not someone with a sweet tooth (funny since I bake so much), I would definitely cut the sugar down further.
adapted from Simply Recipes
- 1/3 cup of butter, margarine or oil (melted)
- 3/4 cup of tightly packed dark brown sugar
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda
- Pinch of salt
- 1 cup of all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup of chocolate chips (optional or whatever chips you want to add)
1 Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly butter and flour an 8X8 pan. Whisk together the melted butter and sugar in a bowl.
2 Add the egg and vanilla extract and whisk.
3 Add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt, mix it all together. Add the butterscotch chips or other mix-ins.
4 Pour into the pan and spread evenly. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Allow to cool. Cut into squares and serve.
Makes 9 blondies.
While I have always enjoyed cooking and loved food, it was never really a big hobby until I moved to London. Now, I think about food, plan meals, and shop for food more than any other activity other than school work. I like to cook at home, and I try to be vigilant in terms of getting the right nutrients especially since I have cut a lot of meat out of my diet since my move. This new feature will be a food diary-cum-recipes/ideas book. I am not good at writing recipes since I just get ideas from friends, family, and the internet, and then adapt. I’ve been tracking my meals so I can get an idea for future meals and things to do with foods and to showcase ideas of food. I usually remember what I have for dinner, sometimes for breakfasts, and lunch I usually buy a sandwich/it’s not made by me. Enjoy.
Monday. November 3, 2008
- Breakfast: Toast. Yogurt.
- Dinner: Pan fried tuna steaks in garlic, ginger, soy sauce, oyster sauce, white pepper, salt, oil, and green/spring onion. For vegetables, I had zucchini/courgettes steam-boiled with a bit of Chinese leaf/nappa too. White rice on side.
- This day also marked a failed attempt at making lemon curd
Tuesday, November 4, 2008
- Breakfast: Probably toast again. I can’t remember what else.
- Dinner: Leftover tuna. I made two steaks and saved the other for this. On the side I had rice (leftover). For veggies, I had the Nappa again, this time steamed with a quartered tomato and celery.
Wednesday, November 5, 2008
- Breakfast: Toast? Oatmeal?
- Dinner: Cantonese style steamed chicken. I boiled two pieces of chicken (one for the next day) with ginger, salt, and white pepper for about 1/2 hour. I heated up a store made Chinese stir fry mix (peppers, bamboo, water chestnuts, sprouts) to which I added soy sauce and oil. Rice on the side.
Thursday, November 6, 2008
- Breakfast: I think I had toast and oatmeal (with cinnamon, honey, and raisins added in).
- Dinner: I diced the second piece of chicken and I stir fried it with garlic and cucumbers in oil, pinch of soy sauce, and a tiny bit of the chicken stock from last night. Left over rice on the side.
Friday, November 7, 2008
- Breakfast: Museli cereal with yogurt. Rye bread toast with Green and Blacks organic chocolate hazelnut spread (so much better than nutella).
- I also had time so I boiled an egg for dinner and made edoes. I love edoes which are smaller taros. They are great steamed; I washed them, cut off the bad parts (I bought a bad bag), and boiled them with skin in lightly-salted water for 20 minutes/until tender. Drained the water, cooled, and popped them in the fridge. Later, I can microwave them, peel them, and eat them dipped in soy sauce.
- Dinner: Store bought New Covent Garden Winter Vegetable soup to which I added a quartered hard boiled egg and about 40-50g of couscous. Tip: Couscous can easily be added to soup as a great alternative to pasta and rice. You can get your fibre when eating a hearty vegetable or meat soup or stew. Since I ate this earlier, I also microwaved new potatoes for a few minutes and dipped them in homemade garlic butter (chopped garlic to butter and added s&p).
- In advance, I made a red onion and cucumber salad with garlic, grated ginger, s&p and olive oil (I don’t have white winegar). Chilled in fridge. This type of salad needs to be chilled at least 1/2 hour in advance of serving or up to 24 hours.
Saturday November 8, 2008
- Breakfast: Rye Toast with remaining garlic toast and the red onion/cucumber salad.
- Lunch/Snack: The edoes dipped in soy sauce. I also had an apple.
- Dinner: I went to a friend’s place. She made Jamaican spiced baked chicken.
Sunday, November 9, 2008
- Breakfast/Brunch: Fried egg on rye toast and the remaining edoes.
- Dinner: Whole wheat past and tomato sauce. I used red onions, green/spring onions, celery, dried parsley, and green olives simmer and sautee them til soft. I put in one small fresh tomato (because I have them) and one 100g can of chopped tomatoes with some minced garlic. I simmered it for 5-10 minutes adding chili flakes, pepper, salt, and dried basil to taste. I added some sugar, but it was not enough.
- Baking: I made an apple crisp, my first baking venture in the UK. All my flatmates+guests had tiny portions. It turned out really well. I used one Jonagold, and I bought a big bag of Golden Delicious. I put too much lemon juice, but it was crispy.
This Week in Drinks: Twinnings Earl Grey Decaf, Twinnings Chai, Honeybush Botswana, Whittard’s of Chelsea 70% cocoa, Yakult, and on friday night, 1/2 pint of Leffe beer.
Pumpkin season is over, but do you have a can of puree? If not get some for this wonderful tea time snack.
This was my third Joy of Baking recipe. I am consistently pleased with the results from the recipes I have made. All of them have been delicious and well thought out.
Continue reading →
This my second time I’m making a recipe from JoyofBaking, and I’ll make another recipe from the site today. I think it’s consistently delivered good results. This loaf is really good. The lemon glaze and the zest give the loaf its quality result. The hand mixer is in storage so I used my arms. That was not good overall. I also think you could use less butter than called for in the recipe. As usual, I reduced the sugar.
This cake is gooey, cinnamony, and chocolately. It could be eaten as a coffee cake for tea or snacks, but it could be a small birthday party cake as well. For people like my Dad who do not like chocolate, raisins could probably be used instead. It’s a little bit of work to separate the eggs and layer the cake, but I think it’s well worth it.
Continue reading →
I made this gingerbread loaf last Christmas. It’s a great alternative to gingerbread cookies, but I did grow up with ginger, hard for me to hate. This recipe was given to me by a friend, and she’s been using it for years. I do not know where I got it, but it is delicious. The texture is a cross between bread and cake. It was soft, but not too moist. Nice firm and delicious exterior. We used the square pan instead of a loaf pan, and we had to take it earlier than described. Easy and good.